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Is Jihad a Call for Muslims to Carry Arms?

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Editor’s note: The perception of most persons is that Jihad is a call for Muslims to carry arms and go on a killing spree in the name of God.

In this sermon by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, he points out that it means a struggle to pursue a pure heart. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful All Praises are due to Allah, We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we seek His forgiveness.

We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and from our evil deeds. Whomever Allah guides there is none who can misguide him, and whomever Allah misguides there is none who can guide him.

I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone without any partners, and I testify that Muhammad (SAW) is Allah’s slave and Messenger.

As to what proceeds. Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hell fire.

As to what proceeds: Servants of Allah! The word Jihad means to struggle for the sake of Allah in a righteous cause. It takes many forms such as the inward struggle to achieve a pure heart, the struggle against sinful temptations; the struggle to help others in need, the struggle to educate our communities and the struggle to bring peace, unity and progress in our societies.

When necessary, jihad can refer to an armed struggle in defense of the community. Jihad has never meant “holy war” (al-harb al-muqaddis) because war in Islam is never holy; it can only be just or unjust.

My respected people! The purpose of armed jihad in Islam is to protect the rights of the innocent, to defend them from aggression, and to ensure people are given the opportunity to freely practice their religion.

The Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the Majority of Islamic scholars from the beginning of Islam until today only permit armed jihad as a response to aggression and persecution. Jihad, properly understood, is a theory of justice in war and not an instrument of conquest and oppression.

Jihad is also theory of just war similar to the legal framework upon which the modern Geneva conventions are based.

Brothers and Sisters! Muslim scholars have written at length about the inward struggle against sinful desires, or the jihad against the soul. This jihad is called the greater jihad (jihad al-akbar), whereas armed struggle is called the lesser jihad (jihad al-asghar).

The spiritual jihad is the greater jihad because it must be done by everyone at all times, whereas military jihad is the lesser jihad because it has specific conditions and is not an obligation upon every Muslim. The term “holy war” was never used by the Prophet, his companions, or the great Muslim scholars who succeeded them.

Abu Umamah reported that: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “The most beloved struggle (jihad) to Allah is a word of truth in front of a tyrannical leader.” (Mu’jam Al-Kabir 8002) Jihad can take the form of service to others in charity, especially parents, relatives and the needy.

Abdullah bin Amr reported that: “A man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “I pledge allegiance to you for emigration and striving in the way of Allah, seeking reward.” The Prophet said: Is one of your parents living? He said, “Yes, rather both of them.” The Prophet said: Do you seek reward from Allah? He said yes. The Prophet said: “Then return to your parents and treat them with good company.” (Sahih Muslim 2549) “Strive for Allah with the striving due to Him.

He has chosen you and has not placed any hardship upon you in the religion. It is the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you Muslims before and in this scripture that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give charity and hold fast to Allah.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22:78)

My beloved people! In this verse, the command to strive in the way of Allah is followed by the command to pray and give in charity, without any reference to fighting. The Prophet would strive to perform such acts of worship during the last ten night of Ramadan.

Allah the Exalted be He said: “What is the matter with you that you do not struggle/fight in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women, and children who say: Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a helper and protector?” (Surah An-Nisa 4:75)

Therefore, while the spiritual struggle is primary in Islam, an armed struggle in defense of the oppressed is a tremendously virtuous deed for those soldiers and officers who put themselves in harm’s way to save others.

Jihad in Islam also refers to the spiritual struggle against sin, the struggle to educate and improve our communities, and an armed struggle in defense of the oppressed. Jihad does not refer to a holy war, because war in Islam is never holy; rather, war in Islam can only be just or unjust, as said earlier.

Solomon Asemota accuses President Buhari of appointing Islamist Jihadists Servants of Allah! Jihad is a comprehensive term in Islam that refers to any effort given toward a good cause, whether it is an act of worship or charity or service.

However, warfare in defense of Islam and the oppressed is called jihad because it takes a great deal of effort and sacrifice. Allah has Legislated warfare as a reaction towards those who initiate aggression against the Muslim Community, but He has forbidden transgression, terrorism, extremism and conversion to Islam by force. In Islam, it is only the leader of Muslims, Amirul Mu’mineen (Sultan or his representative) has the right to declare armed Jihad, not individuals or organisations, groups or any sect.

In fact it is prohibited for any Muslim not only to commit aggression but even to desire hostilities in his heart. In other words, the prohibition of aggression exists not only with an outward legal component but also with an inward spiritual component.

Today the most important battle a Muslim needs to fight is the battle within himself against sinful desires (Jihad An-nafs). This is a struggle, a Jihad in the way of Allah, in which all of us need to participate.

This Jihad to purify the soul involves struggling against greed for worldly pleasures, hypocrisy and insincerity, hatred and envy, arrogance and pride, vanity and narcissism, and all the other evil traits which Satan the cursed uses to lead us into evil and destruction.

Muslims, without doubt, need to make the struggle against these evils their top priority. To conclude, armed Jihad in Islam is only a means of self-defense for the community. It must never be used for conquest, aggression, revenge, subjugation, material gain, political ideology, or any other bad and wrong purpose.

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Prophet and Master, Muhammad peace be upon him, his family and all his Companions. This opinion first appeared in Sahara Reporters. This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Naij.com or its editors.
 

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